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NREL Research Highlighted at Largest Geothermal Meeting

Oct. 15, 2020

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researches, develops, and demonstrates technologies to advance the use of geothermal energy as a clean, renewable, domestic power source for the United States. That research will be showcased during the Geothermal Resources Council (GRC) 2020 Annual Meeting and Expo, Oct. 18–23, 2020.

Touted as the largest annual gathering of the geothermal community, the GRC meeting brings hundreds of participants globally, representing industry, academia, government, and the public.

Look for the following NREL researchers during the upcoming virtual GRC meeting.

Drilling Challenges

Jody Robins
Jody Robins

Jody Robins, senior geothermal drilling engineer, will moderate the Drilling—New Methods Panel. Because drilling costs can comprise up to 25% of the total budget of a geothermal development, lower costs will help the industry be more economically competitive. This panel will discuss the biggest drilling challenges and possible techniques to increase drilling rates while decreasing drilling costs.

Robins will also discuss the initial results of the 2020 U.S. Geothermal Power Production and District Heating Market Report during the International Panel on Monday. The report is being developed by NREL and the GRC and is intended to provide geothermal policymakers, regulators, developers, researchers, engineers, financiers, and other stakeholders with up-to-date information and data reflecting the 2019 geothermal power production and district heating markets, technologies, and trends in the United States. This discussion will feature a summary of the U.S. power production and developing project data collected for the 2020 report.

Cybersecurity Assessment

Tony Markel, senior engineer, will present the Geothermal Sector Cybersecurity Vulnerability Assessment. NREL's cybersecurity analysis identified and analyzed eight potential vulnerabilities. One vulnerability, reservoir data system monitoring, is unique to the geothermal industry. As the geothermal industry grows, cybersecurity strategies will be increasingly important to ensure resilient, reliable, and secure clean energy.

Accelerating Adoption of Direct-Use

Amanda Kolker
Amanda Kolker

Craig Turchi
Craig Turchi

Amanda Kolker, geothermal energy analyst, and Craig Turchi, manager of the Thermal Energy Science and Technologies group, will be on a panel discussing Direct-Use of Geothermal Energy. This session will focus on efforts that identify, characterize, and implement non-electric applications of geothermal heat at multiple scales. Additional discussion topics include technical and economic aspects of geothermal direct-use and ongoing projects that reduce risk for investors.

Machine Learning Techniques

Dmitry Duplyakin, a data scientist in the Data Analysis and Visualization group, will present the results from applying machine learning techniques to modeling and prediction of operation of the Brady Hot Springs geothermal power plant. The poster presentation, Using Machine Learning to Predict Future Temperature Outputs in Geothermal Systems, will cover an overview of the methods being used, details of the simulation data used for model training, as well as a summary of initial prediction results.

Land Disturbance Impacts

Jesse Cruce, a research analyst in the Markets and Policy group, will present an evaluation of land disturbance impacts associated with geothermal power plants in the western United States. His paper, Streamlining Energy Sprawl: Assessment of Geothermal Impacts on Public Lands, discusses land use metrics to compare geothermal sites to each other and to compare geothermal with other renewable energy sources. He also examines trends between geothermal power production technologies and assesses whether the most recently developed sites have improved on their land use as compared with earlier facilities.

Geothermal Operational Optimization

Jon Weers, senior data scientist, will discuss the Geothermal Operational Optimization with Machine Learning (GOOML) project along with principal investigator Paul Siratovich of Upflow Ltd, New Zealand. GOOML aims to achieve a step-change in geothermal power production by optimizing steam field operations using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, data analytics, and physics-based digital steam field models. This paper demonstrates, among other things, how NREL's team of geophysicists, data scientists, and coders have partnered with industry to identify opportunities for increased geothermal efficiency, detect potential trouble, and allow predictive scenario modeling.

Women in Geothermal

Caity Smith
Caity Smith

Kate Young
Kate Young

Women in Geothermal (WING), a global network that promotes the education, professional development, and advancement of women, will be hosting activities such as yoga and an awards ceremony. Geothermal Laboratory Program Manager Kate Young and Geothermal Operations Manager Caity Smith will help lead these activities.

Learn more about NREL geothermal research.